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Belarusian Opposition Activist Released After Four Years In Prison

IVANTSEVICHY, Belarus -- An activist of the unregistered opposition Young Front organization in Belarus, Eduard Lobau, was released on December 18 after four years in prison.

Lobau and fellow Youth Front activist Zmitser Dashkevich were sentenced to four and two years in jail, respectively, after being found guilty in March 2011 of assaulting two people in Minsk in December 2010, a day before a disputed presidential election that was followed by mass arrests of activists.

Lobau's mother, friends, colleagues, and journalists met Lobau at the prison gates near the western town of Ivantsevichy on December 18.

Lobau reiterated to RFE/RL that the case against him and Dashkevich was "a provocation" to isolate them from the public during the 2010 election, in which authoritarian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka extended his rule.

Amnesty International recognized Lobau and Dashkevich as a "prisoners of conscience."

Dashkevich was released from jail last year.

Both men have maintained their innocence and rejected offers of presidential pardons conditioned on admissions of guilt.

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